Monthly Archives: February 2014

What’s it like to take an Ivy League Class on…Wine?

One of the benefits of being a CALS and AEM student is the flexibility that the requirements provide–and that’s not something I’ve taken for granted at all. Case in point: As a second semester senior that was interested in experimenting with a new academic field, and knew very little about wine, I recently signed up for VIEN 1104: Introduction to Wines and VinesMessages(There is a Hotel wine class as well, which is generally larger.) Let me tell you about my experiences in the course, as it’s definitely been a unique experience!

I’ll start off by saying that if you think this is a course that students take simply to get drunk in class, you’d be sorely mistaken. If anything, students like that would be weeded out pretty quickly–as we’re only a few weeks in, and it’s been a pretty comprehensive introduction to wine principles and grapegrowing. In fact, many of the students in the class have experience in vineyard management! Topics covered so far have included the history of wine production, fermentation, and sensory evaluation. (Who knew there were so many ways that grapes could grow?)

And yes, there are regular wine tastings in class! And not an insignificant amount is being poured. As we bring 4 wine glasses to class every day, the TA’s come around a few times per lecture to fill each one up a little less than halfway. I’vewineslide really been surprised by the diversity of wine flavors and aromas that exist based on the type of winegrapes and how they’re grown–and have sampled firsthand beverages with aromas that students have described as fruity, bitter, spicy, and similar to “cat pee” (yes, that’s a thing). Those that aren’t 21, or those that aren’t in the mood to drink, don’t have to–it just improves the classroom experience. Additionally, there’s no shame in tasting then spitting. What you are not allowed to do, however, is wear excessive perfume/cologne: this understandably affects “your and your neighbors’ sensory perceptions of wines” (from the syllabus).

Something cool I’ve learned in Wines and Vines is that wine perception varies a fair amount based on the individual, due to the uniqueness of each person’s senses. Whenever we do a tasting, it’s usually followed by an I-Clicker Messages-1multiple choice survey question that asks what we thought of the beverage, or to compare it to another one. Seeing how the class reacted to a particular drink, compared to your own opinion, is pretty neat.

So how’s the experience been overall? Great. Despite being at night near the Vet School (quite the walk from Collegetown), This is the quintessentially great Cornell course. Why? Because it’s on a subject matter that I have no experience in, but thanks to the well-designed course and passionate professors, has sparked my interest in the field. Will I be an expert viticulturist one day? Probably not…but at least I’ll be able to carry with me an interest in viticulture and enology for the rest of my life.

One quite literal “take-away” from the class are some cool Cornell CALS wine glasses that we were able to buy (as pictured). Hopefully I’ll be able to put ’em to use regularly after the course is over. Heck, maybe if my business career allows for it down the road, I’ll be able to move to Napa Valley, buy a few acres of land and apply what I’ve learned in the class!

A Guide to Cornell’s Best On-Campus Lunches

Some people attend Cornell for the rigorous academics, others attend for the intellectual atmosphere, and many come for the varied extracurricular experiences. I came here just for the food. Okay, that’s not true, but the point being…Cornell has some Messages-36pretty darn good dining options available, particularly during the lunch hours.

Since I’ve been back to school, just for you dear readers, I ate at as many of my favorite lunch spots on campus as I could, to snag pictures. Why? In part because I thought it’d be a fun topic, and in part because, having blogged for for almost 4 years, I’m kinda running on exhaust here for post ideas (kidding…just a little bit). But regardless, here’s the fruit of my efforts: a guide to my favorite lunch options on campus. Also, I assume that because I did this for a blog post, I’ll get reimbursed by Cornell’s Office of Web Communications for all these lunches (right Emily/Lisa?).

So, here we go. In no particular order, here are my favorite lunches:

#1: Trillium’s Chicken Parmesan Meal (usually only available on Mondays): I don’t wanna overstate how good Trill’s chicken parm is, but let’s just say that if I was given the option of failing a required course this final semester just to enjoy another 4 monthsMessages of Trillium Chicken Parm…it wouldn’t be an easy choice to make (yes, this is a joke). The garlic bread it comes with is fantastic, as is the marinara sauce on the pasta. Pro-tip: make sure you get your free soda, which comes with the meal. Plus, Ernie is the guy that works behind the counter there, and you’re almost guaranteed a hearty “hello!” from him every time you order it.

#2: Goldie’s Chicken Panini: Just excellent. Ever since Goldie’s opened my freshman year, it’s been a quality place to get soups and sandwiches on the go. The chicken panini has an awesome taste, it’s nicely portioned, and you get a pickle with it. It Messages-2doesn’t get better than that. I will say, though, that mandatory with the meal, in my opinion, is a Yoohoo drink because they have ’em at Goldies, and I haven’t figured out anywhere else on campus that stocks them. Yoohoo brings you back to your childhood, and nothing works better than nostalgia to help you get over that finance prelim.

#3: The Big Red Barn’s Pasta with Sausage: Sometimes when I want to pretend I’m a brilliant PhD student, I “sneak” into Messages-3the Big Red Barn, Cornell’s graduate student center, and grab lunch. The Pasta with sausage is excellent and it’s also a great atmosphere to eat in–very cozy, especially in the winter. I do wish it were a little more generously sized, but whatever.

#4: Synapsis Margarita Pizza: Not too much to say, besides the fact that it’s filling and great. The tomatoes, you can tell, are fresh…and it’s fun to watch it being cooked in the fire oven right in front of you. It’s definitely a nice alternative to a cheesier pizza, as I don’t feel bloated after eating it. Plus, Messages-9I dig the Cornell athletics memorabilia around the place. In general, though, I prefer eating there when it’s not raining inside.

#5: Libe Cafe’s Ham and Swiss sandwich (not pictured): If I’m on Central…I don’t normally stray far away from the Ag Quad, but when I do and am hungry, I try to head to Libe Cafe in Olin–the Ham and Cheese sandwich there is excellent. You also get to eat it in Libe Cafe, which has some of the most comfortable chairs on campus for dining. You gotta grab a Cornell Sun newspaper, score a red chair, and slowly eat it as you hear liberal arts majors having intellectual conversations in the background to get the full experience.

#6: Manndible’s Burrito Bar: It’s definitely a good choice if you’re around the Ag Quad, except they don’t take BRB’s. Everyone there is very friendly and it’s nice to support an Ithaca-owned business. I planned to show a picture of how nice their burritos were…but the plan backfired Messages-12when the burrito wrapper told me the bread was unusual today, and gave me my burrito with a gaping hole in it. Ah well, now you can at least see the inside; it’s not usually presented like this, I promise.

#7: Terrace Salads. I can’t praise enough the glory that is the Terrace lunchtime salad…and the fact that the line stretches out the door every day (almost to Cortland) speaks for itself. I love the orange dressing, lettuce, and meats they have–seriously, Messages9it’s worth trying. A bonus, too, is watching the salad bar employees masterfully put the ingredients together at the speed of light (or close enough). I guess you gotta be that efficient, though, when the line is that long…

So that about wraps up my favorite lunch options on campus. Honorable mentions include Trillium burgers, Cornell dairy (not really lunch, but should be mentioned anyways), and the new Thai wrap from Cafe Jennie in the Cornell Store. And, as always, comment here or message me if you have any feedback!